Fifth Point: The wondrousness in the Qur'an's manner of exposition.

Fifth Point: This is the excellence in its manner of exposition; that is to say, the superiority, conciseness, and grandeur. Just as there is eloquence in the word-order, the wording, and the meaning, and a uniqueness in its style, so in its manner of exposition is there a superiority and excellence. Indeed, all the categories and levels of speech and address, like encouragement and deterring, praise and censure, demonstration and guidance, explanation and silencing in argument, are at the highest degree in the Qur’an’s exposition.

Of the innumerable examples of its manner of exposition1 in the category of encouragement and urging is that in Sura Has there not been over man a long period of time when he was nothing - [not even] mentioned?;2 this is as sweet as the water of Kawthar and flows with the fluency of the spring of Salsabil, it is as fine as the raiment of the houris.

Of the numerous examples of the category of deterring and threatening is the start of Sura Has the story reached you of the Overwhelming Event?3 Here the Qur’an’s exposition has an effect like lead boiling in the ears of the people of misguidance, and fire burning in their brains, and zaqqum scalding their palates, and Hell assaulting their faces, and like a bitter thorny tree in their stomachs. An official like Hell charged by someone with inflicting torment and torture in order to demonstrate his threats, and its splitting apart with seething rage, and its saying: well-nigh bursting with fury4 certainly show how awesomely dreadful that person’s threats are.

Of the thousands of examples in the category of praise, the Qur’an’s manner of exposition in the five Suras starting al-Hamdulillah is brilliant like the sun,5 adorned like the stars, majestic like the heavens and the earth, lovable like the angels, compassionate like tenderness towards young in this world, and beautiful like Paradise in the hereafter.

Of the thousands of examples in the category of censure and restraint, in the verse, Would any among you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother,6 it censures six times. It restrains from backbiting forcibly six times over. It is like this: as is known, the Hamza at the beginning of the verse is interrogative. This seeps through all the words of the verse like water. Thus, with the first Hamza it asks: Have you no reason, the seat of question and answer, that you do not understand how ugly it is?

With the second, it asks with the word like: Is your heart, the seat of love and hate, so corrupted that it loves the most despicable thing?

With the third, it asks with the words one of you: What has happened to your social life and civilization, which receives its vitality from the community, that it finds acceptable an act which thus poisons your life?

With the fourth, it asks with the words to eat the flesh: What has happened to your humanity that you tear apart your friend like a savage beast?

With the fifth, it asks with the words your brother: Have you no compassion and fellow-feeling that you unjustly tear with your teeth at the character of the one injured, your brother in so many respects? Have you no reason that you bite at your own limbs like a madman?

And with the sixth it asks with the word dead: Where is your conscience? Is your nature so corrupted that you do the most repulsive thing to the most respected person, your brother, like eating his flesh? That is to say, backbiting is censured and despised by the reason, the heart, humanity, the conscience, human nature, and social and national solidarity. So see! How this verse restrains from this crime in six concise degrees, on six miraculous levels!

Of the thousands of examples of the category of proof and demonstration, is the verse:

So consider the signs of Allah’s mercy; how He gives life to the earth after its death. Indeed, it is He Who gives life to the dead, for He is powerful over all things.7

Its exposition is such in proving resurrection and banishing doubts that it could not be more clearly demonstrated. It is like this: it says that, as is proved and explained in the Ninth Truth of the Tenth Word and in the Fifth Flash of the Twenty-Second Word, every spring examples of resurrection are provided in three hundred thousand ways in the earth being raised to life with the utmost order and differentiation despite the innumerable species being all mixed up together in total confusion, thus demonstrating to the human observer that the resurrection of the dead would not be difficult for the One who does this. Also, since to write without fault or error with the pen of power hundreds of thousands of species on the page of the earth, all together and one within the other, is the seal of the Single One of Unity; with this verse it both proves Divine unity as the clearly as the sun, and it demonstrates the resurrection of the dead as easily and decisively as the rising and setting of the sun. Thus, the Qur’an demonstrates this truth in regard to manner, as described by the word how, just as it mentions it in detail in many Suras.

And for example, in Sura, Qaf. By the Glorious Qur’an,8 it proves resurrection in such a brilliant, fine, sweet, and exalted manner that it convinces as certainly as the coming of spring. Look: in answer to the unbelievers denying the raising to life of decomposed bones and saying: “This is extraordinary; it could not be!”, it decrees:

Do they not look to the skies above them; how we have made them and adorned them and how there is no flaw in them.... until: ...and thus will be the Resurrection.9

Its manner of exposition flows like water and shines like the stars. It gives both pleasure and delight to the heart like dates. And it is sustenance.

And in one of the most subtle examples of the category of demonstration, it says:

Ya. Sin.* By the All-Wise Qur’an * Indeed you are one of the Messengers.10

That is, “I swear by the Wise Qur’an that you are one of the Divine Messengers.” This oath indicates that the proof of Messengership is so certain and true, and its veracity is so worthy of honour and respect, that it is sworn by. By indicating this, it is saying: “You are the Messenger, for you hold the Qur’an in your hand, and the Qur’an is the truth and it is the word of Truth. For it contains true wisdom, and bears the seal of miraculousness.”

And one of the concise and miraculous examples of the category of proof and demonstration is this:

He says: Who will raise to life these bones when they are rotted? * Say: He will raise them Who created them in the first instance, for He has full knowledge of every kind of creation.11

That is, man asks: “Who will resurrect decayed bones?” You say: “Whoever made them in the first place and gave them life, He will resurrect them.” As was depicted in the third comparison of the Ninth Truth in the Tenth Word, if someone reassembles a large army in one day before your eyes, and someone else says: “At a bugle-call that person brought together the members of a battalion who had dispersed to rest; he is able to bring the battalion under order,” and you say, O man: “I do not believe it,” you can see what a foolish denial it would be.

In just the same way, the All-Powerful and All-Knowing One enrolls and unites anew with the command of “Be!” and it is, and with perfect order and the balance of wisdom, the particles and subtle faculties of the battalion-like bodies of all the animals -which are like an army- and other living creatures, and creates every century, and every spring even, all the hundreds of thousands of army-like species of living creatures on the face of the earth. Can it be questioned then how He can gather together at one blast of Israfil’s trumpet the fundamental parts and particles of a battalion-like body, which are already familiar with one another, through taking them under order? Can it be considered unlikely? If it is considered unlikely, it is a mindless foolishness.

In the category of guidance, the Qur’an’s manner of exposition is so moving and tender, and familiar and gentle that it fills the spirit with ardour, the heart with delight, the mind with interest, and the eyes with tears. Of thousands of examples is this verse:

And yet after all this your hearts hardened and became like rocks, or even harder... to the end of the verse.12

As is proved and explained in the discussion of the third verse in the First Station of the Twentieth Word, it says to the Children of Israel: “What has happened to you that although hard rock shed tears from twelve springs like eyes before a miracle like the Staff of Moses (Peace be upon him), you remain indifferent in the face of all his miracles, with your eyes dry and tearless and your hearts hard and without fervour?” Since this meaning of guidance is explained there, we refer you to that Word, and curtail this here.

Of thousands of examples in the category of making understood and silencing in argument, consider only the following two:

If you have doubts about the Qur’an We have revealed to Our servant Muhammad, then produce a Sura similar to it. And call upon all your helpers besides Allah to bear witness for you, if what you say is true.13

That is, “If you have any doubts, summon all your elders and supporters to help you and testify for you, then compose the like of a single Sura.” Since this has been explained and proved in Isharat al-I‘jaz, here we shall only point out a brief summary of it. It is as follows:

The Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition says: “O men and jinn! If you have any doubts that the Qur’an is the Word of Allah and imagine it to be man’s word, then come on, here it is, let’s see! You bring a book like this Qur’an from someone unlettered, who does not know how to read and write like the one you call Muhammad the Trustworthy, and get him to compose it! If you cannot do this, then he need not be untaught, let him be a famous man of letters and learned. And if you are not able to do this, alright, not on his own, take all the finest works of all your orators and men of eloquence, and indeed of all the literary geniuses of the past and all those of the future, and the assistance of all your gods. Work with all your strength, compose the like of this Qur'an. And if you cannot do this, leave aside the truths of the Qur’an and its many miraculous aspects, which it is not possible to imitate, and compose a work which is its equal in only the eloquence of its word-order!”

Through the silencing words of

Bring then ten Suras forged, like it,14

it says: “Come on, I do not want its true meaning from you, let it be fabrications and lies and false tales. You will not be able to do this. So it need not be as much as the whole Qur’an, just bring ten Suras like it. You will not be able to do this either, so bring a single Sura. This will be too much as well. So alright, make it the equivalent of a short Sura. You will not be able to do this either, although the need for you to do so is so great. For your honour and self-respect, your dignity and religion, your tribal honour and pride, your life and property, and your lives in this world and the next will all be saved by producing the like of it. Otherwise in this world you will remain in abasement, without honour, dignity, religion, or pride, and your lives and property will be destroyed and will perish, and in the hereafter, as is indicated by the verse,

Then give heed to Hell-fire, whose fuel is men and stones,15

you will be condemned to everlasting incarceration in Hell; together with your idols you will be fuel to its fires. Since your need is thus great, and since you have now understood your impotence in eight degrees, you should be certain eight times over that the Qur’an is a miracle. So either believe in it, or be silent and go to Hell!” So see the way the Qur’an forces them to accept the argument in this category of ‘silencing in argument’ which is within that of ‘making understood,’ and say: “There is no manner of exposition better than that of the Qur’an!” Indeed, after that of the Qur’an no need remains for further exposition.

Here is a second example:

Exhort then [O Prophet], for by your Sustainer’s grace you are neither a soothsayer nor a madman * Or do they say: A poet! - let us wait and see what time will do! * Say: Wait then, I too shall wait with you. * Is it that their faculties of understanding urge them to this, or are they but a people transgressing all bounds. * Or do they say: He fabricated this [Message]? Nay, they do not believe. * Let them then produce a recital like unto it - if they speak the truth. * Or were they created of nothing, or were they themselves the creators? * Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay, they have no firm belief. *

Or are the treasuries of your Sustainer with them, or are they the managers [of affairs]? * Or have they a ladder by which they can [climb up to heaven and] listen [to its secrets]? Then let [such a] listener of theirs produce a manifest proof. * Or has He only daughters and you have sons? * Or is it that you ask for a reward, so that they are burdened with a load of debt? * Or that the Unseen is in their hands, and they write it down? * Or do they intend a plot [against you]? But those who defy Allah are themselves involved in a plot! * Or have they a god other than Allah? Exalted is Allah far above the things they associate with them.16

Here we shall explain only one of the thousands of truths of these verses as a further example of the category of silencing in argument. It is as follows: with the word, Or....Or..., it silences every group of the people of misguidance with a rhetorical question expressing surprise and stops up all the sources of their doubts. It leaves no satanic chink through which doubts might enter and hide themselves; it closes them all. It leaves no veil of misguidance under which they might creep and lurk; it rends all of them. It leaves not one of their lies; it crushes them. In each sentence it either demolishes the essence of the blasphemous ideas of one group with a short phrase, or since the falsity is obvious, it exposes it by silence, or since it is refuted in detail in other verses, it here alludes to it briefly. For example, the first sentence alludes to the verse:

And We have not instructed him poetry, nor is it meet for him.17

While the fifteenth sentence points to the verse:

Were there gods other than Allah in the heavens and earth, there surely would have been confusion in both.18

You can make further examples from the other sentences like these. It is like this: it says at the start: Announce the Divine decrees. You are not a soothsayer, for the words of soothsayers are confused and conjectural, while yours are true and certain. And you are not mad; your enemies even attest to your perfect sanity.

Or do they say: A poet - let us wait and see what time will do!19

Do they call you a poet, like the unreasoning, common infidels? Are they waiting for you to perish? You say to them: “Wait! I shall wait with you!” Your vast and brilliant truths are free of the imaginings of poetry and independent of their fancies.

Or is it that their faculties of understanding urge them to this?20

Or like unreasoning philosophers who rely on their reasons, do they hold back from following you, saying: “Our faculties of reason are sufficient.” But reason commands that you are followed, because everything you say is reasonable. But again the reason on its own cannot reach it.

Or are they but a people transgressing all bounds?21

Or is the reason for their denial their not submitting to Almighty Allah like wicked tyrants? But the ends of the Pharaohs and Nimrods, who were the leaders of arrogant oppressors, are known.

Or do they say: He fabricated this [Message]? Nay, they do not believe.22

Or like lying dissemblers without conscience do they accuse you saying: “You have made up the Qur’an!”? But up to this time they have known you to be the most truthful among them and have called you Muhammad the Trustworthy. It means that they have no intention to believe. Otherwise let them find the like of the Qur’an among the works of men.

Or were they created of nothing?23

Or like the absurd philosophers who believed the universe to be without purpose and in vain, do they suppose themselves to be aimless and without wisdom, purpose, duty, or Creator? Have they become blind that they do not see that the universe is adorned from top to bottom with instances of wisdom and bears the fruit of aims, and that beings from particles to the suns are charged with duties and are subjugated to the Divine commands?

Or were they themselves the creators?24

Or do they imagine like the pharaoh-like Materialists that “They came into being by themselves, feed themselves, and themselves create everything they need,” so that they hold back from believing and worship? That means they all suppose themselves to be the Creator. Whereas the Creator of one thing has to be the Creator of everything. That is to say, their pride and conceit have made them so utterly stupid they imagine to be a Possessor of Absolute Power one who is absolutely impotent and may be defeated by a fly or a microbe. Since they have abdicated their reason and humanity to this degree and have fallen lower than the animals and even inanimate beings, do not be saddened at their denial. Consider them to be a variety of harmful animal and filthy matter! Ignore them and give them no importance!

Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay, they have no firm belief!25

Or, like the mindless, confused Mu‘attila, who denied Allah all attributes and denied the Creator, do they deny Allah so that they do not heed the Qur’an? In which case, let them deny the existence of the heavens and the earth, or let them say: “We created them!” Let them lose their minds altogether and begin uttering the frenzied ravings of lunacy. For in the heavens as many proofs of Divine unity are apparent and are recited as the stars, and on the earth as many as the flowers. That means they have no intention of acquiring certain knowledge and finding the truth. Otherwise how do they suppose to be without inscriber the book of the universe, in one word of which is written a whole book, although they know that a letter cannot exist without the one who wrote it.

Or are the treasuries of your Sustainer with them?26

Or, like one group of misguided philosophers who denied Almighty Allah the power of choice, or like the Brahmans, do they deny the source of prophethood so that they do not believe in you? In which case, let them deny all the traces of wisdom and purpose, all the order and fruits which are apparent in all beings and demonstrate will and choice, let them deny all the works of mercy and grace, and all the miracles of all the prophets! Or let them say: “All the treasuries of the bounties given to creatures are with us and under our control.” Let them prove they are not fit to be addressed! Do not be grieved at their denial, say: “Allah’s unreasoning animals are many!”

Or are they the managers [of affairs]?27

Or, like the arrogant Mu‘tazilites, who made the reason dominant, do they imagine themselves to be rivals to and inspectors of the Creator’s works, and want to hold the All-Glorious Creator responsible? Beware, do not lose heart! Nothing can come of the denials of self-centred people like that! You do not be deceived either!

Or have they a ladder by which they can [climb up to heaven and] listen [to its secrets]? Then let [such a] listener of theirs produce a manifest proof!28

Or, like the spiritualists and phony soothsayers, do they follow Satan and the jinn and suppose they have found another way to the World of the Unseen? In which case, have they a ladder by which to ascend to the heavens which are closed to the satans? Do they imagine that they can give the lie to your news from the heavens? The denials of such charlatans are worth nothing!

Or has He only daughters and you have sons?29

Or, like the polytheist philosophers who ascribed partners to Allah under the name of ‘the ten intellects’ and ‘the masters of the species,’ and the Sabeans, who attributed a sort of godhead to the stars and the angels, do they ascribe offspring to Almighty Allah? Like the heretics and misguided, do they ascribe a son to Him, which is contrary to the necessary existence, unity, eternity, and absolute self-sufficiency of the Single and Eternally Besought One? Do they ascribe femininity to that offspring, which is opposed to the angels’ worship, purity, and kind? Do they suppose it to be an intercessor for them, so that they do not follow you? Generation is the means of multiplying, mutual assistance, perpetuation, and life for creatures like man, who is contingent, transitory, and in need of perpetuating the species, is corporeal and divisible, capable of multiplying, impotent and needy for an heir to help him. So to ascribe offspring -and a sort of offspring that those impotent, contingent, wretched men did not themselves like and could not equate with their arrogant pride, that is, female offspring- to the All-Glorious One, Whose existence is necessary and perpetual, Who endures from pre-eternity to post-eternity, Whose essence is utterly remote from and exalted above corporality, Whose being is free of and exempt from division and multiplication, and Whose Power is far above and beyond all impotence, is indeed such a delirium, such a lunatic raving that the lies and denials of those wretches who subscribe to such an idea are worth nothing. You must not be deceived. The scatter-brained nonsense, the delirious ravings of every crazy lunatic, should not be heeded!

Or is it that you ask for a reward, so that they are burdened with a load of debt?30

Or, like the rebellious, overweening worshippers of this world, who have made a habit of greed and miserliness, do they find what you propose burdensome, so that they flee from you? Do they not know that you seek your wage and recompense from Allah alone? Is it a burden to give to their own poor one fortieth of the property given to them by Allah Almighty, or a part of it, and as a consequence both receive plenty, and be saved from the envy and curses of the poor? Do they consider the command to give zakat burdensome and therefore hold back from Islam? Their denials have no importance, and what they deserve is a slap, not an answer...

Or is it that the Unseen is in their hands, and they write it down?31

Or, like Buddhists, who claim to be familiar with the Unseen, or the pseudo-intellectuals, who imagine their conjectures about its affairs to be certain, does what you said about the Unseen not appeal to them? That means they imagine that the World of the Unseen, which is disclosed to no one apart from the Divine Messengers, who receive revelation, and which no one has the ability to enter, is present and laid open before them, and that they obtain information from it and write it down. So do not be disheartened by the lies of these arrogant braggarts who have overstepped their mark to an infinite degree! For in a short while your truths will completely overturn their imaginings!

Or do they intend a plot [against you]? But those who defy Allah are themselves involved in a plot!32

Or, like two-faced dissemblers and cunning atheists whose natures are corrupted and consciences rotted, do they want to deceive the people and turn them away from the guidance which they cannot obtain, to trick them, and so call you either a soothsayer, or possessed, or a sorcerer? Do they want to make others believe what they do not believe themselves? Don’t think of these insidious charlatans as human beings, don’t be saddened at their wiles and denials, and lose heart. Rather, increase your efforts! For they only deceive their own souls and harm themselves. And their successes in evil are temporary; it is a Divine stratagem, drawing them to perdition by degrees.

Or have they a god other than Allah? Exalted is Allah far above the things they associate with Him!33

Or, like the Magians, who imagined two separate gods called the Creator of Good and the Creator of Evil, or like the idolators and worshippers of causes, who attribute a sort of godhead to different causes and imagine each of them to be a source of support for them, do they rely on other gods and contest you? Do they consider themselves free of any need of you? That means they have become blind and do not see the perfect order and flawless harmony throughout the universe, which is as clear as day. For in accordance with the decree,

Were there gods other than Allah in the heavens and the earth, there surely would have been confusion in both,34

if there are two headmen in a village, or two governors in a town, or two kings in a country, order is turned upside down and harmony spoilt. But from a fly’s wing to the lamps in the heavens, such a fine order has been observed that it leaves not so much space as a fly’s wing for partners to be associated with Allah. Since the above act in a manner so opposed to reason, wisdom, feeling, and what is obvious, don’t let their lies put you off proclaiming the Message!

Thus, of the hundreds of jewels of these verses, which constitute a series of truths, we have briefly explained only a single jewel of the Qur’an’s manner of exposition in the category of ‘giving to understand’ and ‘silencing in argument.’ If I had had the power and shown a few more jewels, you too would have said: “These verses are a miracle just on their own.” But the Qur’an’s manner of exposition in making understood and instruction is so wonderful, subtle, and fluent that the most simple ordinary person easily comprehends a most profound truth from the way it explains it. Yes, the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition simply and clearly teaches most abstruse truths in a way that caresses the view of people in general, and neither hurts their feelings, nor irritates their minds, nor tires them. Just as when speaking with a child, childish words are used, in the same way the Qur’anic styles come down to the level of those it addresses -called in the terminology of the scholars of theology, ‘Divine condescension to the mind of man’- it addresses them in that way; through comparisons in the form of allegories, it makes an illiterate common person understand abstruse Divine truths and dominical mysteries which the minds of the most learned philosophers cannot rise to.

For example, by means of a comparison, the verse,

The Most Merciful One on the Throne established35

depicts Divine dominicality as a kingdom, and the degree of that dominicality as that of a King seated on the throne of his sovereignty and exercising His rule. Indeed, as the speech of the All-Glorious Creator of the universe, the Qur’an proceeds from the ultimate degree of His dominicality, passes over all the other degrees guiding those who rise to them, and passing through seventy thousand veils, it looks to each and illuminates it. It scatters its radiance and spreads its light to the thousands of levels of those it addresses, the understanding and intelligence of whom are all different. Although it has lived through ages and centuries whose capacities are all different, and has broadcast its meaning to this great extent, it has not lost an iota of its perfect youth and juvenility, and retaining its total freshness and delicacy, it teaches every ordinary person in a most easy, skilful, and comprehensible manner. Whatever aspect of a wonder-displaying book which thus teaches, convinces, and satisfies with the same lesson, the same words, numerous levels of people whose understanding and degrees are all different - whatever aspect of such a book is studied, a flash of miraculousness will surely appear.

In Short: Just as when some words of the Qur’an like “All praise and thanks be to Allah” are recited, they fill a cave, which is the ear of a mountain, in the same way that they fill the tiny ears of a fly, so too the Qur’an’s meanings satisfy ears like mountains in the same way that with the same words they teach and satisfy tiny simple minds, like a fly. For the Qur’an calls to belief all the levels of men and jinn. It teaches the sciences of belief to all. In which case, the most lowly of the common people kneels shoulder to shoulder with the most elevated of the elite, and together they listen to the Qur’an’s teachings and benefit from them. That is to say, the Holy Qur’an is a heavenly repast at which the thousands of different levels of minds, intellects, hearts, and spirits find their nourishment. Their desires are fulfilled and their appetites are satisfied. In fact, numerous of its doors remain closed and are left to those who will come in the future. If you want an example of this category, from beginning to end the Qur’an forms examples of it. All the Qur’an’s students and those who listen to its teachings, like the interpreters of the law, the veracious ones, the Islamic philosophers, the sages, the scholars of jurisprudence and scholars of theology, the saintly guides of those seeking knowledge of Allah, the spiritual poles of the lovers of Allah, the learned and exacting scholars, and the mass of Muslims, unanimously declare: “We understand thoroughly what the Qur’an teaches us.” In short, flashes of the Qur’an’s miraculousness sparkle in the category of ‘making understood and instruction’ just as they do in the other categories.

____________________

1. The style here has slipped into the clothes of this Sura’s meaning.
2. Qur’an, 76:1.
3. Qur’an, 88:1.
4. Qur’an, 67:8.
5. In these phrases is an allusion to the matters discussed in these Suras.
6. Qur’an, 49:12.
7. Qur’an, 30:50.
8. Qur’an, 50:1.
9. Qur’an, 50:6-11.
10. Qur’an, 36:1-3.
11. Qur’an, 36:78-79.
12. Qur’an, 2:74.
13. Qur’an, 2:23.
14. Qur’an, 11:13.
15. Qur’an, 2:24.
16. Qur’an, 52:29-43.
17. Qur’an, 36:69.
18. Qur’an, 21:22.
19. Qur’an, 52:30.
20. Qur’an, 52:32.
21. Qur’an, 52:32.
22. Qur’an, 52:33.
23. Qur’an, 52:35.
24. Qur’an, 52:35.
25. Qur’an, 52:36.
26. Qur’an, 52:37
27. Qur’an, 52:37.
28. Qur’an, 52:38.
29. Qur’an, 52:39.
30. Qur’an, 52:40.
31. Qur’an, 52:41.
32. Qur’an, 52:42.
33. Qur’an, 52:43.
34. Qur’an, 21:22.
35. Qur’an, 20:5.

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Second Ray: The wondrousness in the Qur'an's comprehensiveness.

 

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